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October 10, 2012

Lessons from Facebook: How to Be Irresistible

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While other addictions are more dangerous to your physical health, it’s hard to compete with Facebook as far as irresistible urges go.

A study conducted in Germany found Facebook to be as enticing as even the most primal desire, sex, and the most tempting substance, cigarettes. While Facebook’s addictive nature may not be as physiologically demanding, succumbing to its pressure is more difficult. It’s too easy to rationalize another visit to the network as harmless, and so we give in — over and over again.

But like a lashing from a good therapist, Facebook has been hearing it straight from Wall Street. Facebook stock has been descending for weeks as investors are nervous about the company’s long-term prospects. Securing a grip on mobile advertising will be Facebook’s make-or-break moment.

As it goes with most challenges, you’re best to take it as a learning moment. So while Facebook tries to learn what it can about capturing and reaching mobile users, businesses can learn about what makes Facebook so addictive. Mimic some of Facebook’s behaviors to draw users back for more.

Update the site with new content. Give updates about updates.

Why do I return to Facebook every five minutes? Because something new may have been posted! I’m like a lab rat pressing a lever, hoping that each time I’ll be rewarded with some content treat. Facebook has made it easy to identify new content in your network, with a chronological mini-feed and an algorithm ranked main feed both surfacing new and popular shared content.

And of course the power of the little red number in the top left corner can’t be overstated. An instant indication of updates of special interest to you, Facebook tells you the number of high-value updates since you last visited.

Notify users about interactions and favorites on their mobile devices.

Draw your visitors back to the site with any of a number of methods. There are plugins that let commenters subscribe to blog comments. New comments on a thread they posted on sends notifications to the reader’s email address. Facebook has settings that let users set notifications to their mobile device when favorite friends post and when people interact with posts. Getting alerts on your mobile is a surefire way to get people coming back.

Enable sharing to continue conversations.

Of course you want your own content to emulate Facebook content in a very literal way — you actually want your content to be posted to Facebook. Plug your site and content into the social Web with easy sharing. Put those social share buttons in a prominent place near the content. Only include the networks popular with your audience and the type of content published. Only include share buttons on pages that have a high sharing potential. Optimize Meta tags in terms of keywords and length because they’re used by social share buttons when auto-generating the post.

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4 responses to “Lessons from Facebook: How to Be Irresistible”

  1. Nick Stamoulis writes:

    There is definitely a Facebook obsession problem. Many people check the site numerous times a day. This is exactly why businesses need to have a presence there and share content on a regular basis that people will actually interact with.

  2. Virginia writes:

    So it’s agreed. We need an app for that. Facebook blocking app, that is. I’m going to do a little searching to see if I find something that will limit my use. If you find anything, anyone, let me know!

  3. Martin Ramirez writes:

    Personally, one of the items on my don’t do list, is to not check facebook so often. It’s a huge time suck. Great share.

  4. Kent writes:

    Yes, agree. One of the reasons why someone so additive to FB is because of new content. Another is because we want to check if someone likes and comments on what we posted.

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